أَلَا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ
Now, surely, sincere devotion is due to Allah (alone)
(Sūratul Zumar, No. 39, Āyat 3)
Being a true servant of Allah means to be devoted to Him and Him alone. He is the focus of life, and all else revolves around Him. Just as the pilgrims circumbulate around the Ka’ba, the life of a believer orbits around the central point of the pleasure of Allah. That is the whole meaning of submission to God alone.
A man came to the Holy Prophet (s) and asked if they would get a reward from God if they gave wealth to others to earn fame. The Holy Prophet (s) said they would not. He then asked if they would get a reward if they gave wealth to please God and to earn fame. The Holy Prophet (s) replied that God accepts only that which is sincerely for Him, and he recited the above verse.
It is worthy of God that the devotion to Him be completely pure and sincere. It should not be tinged with love of self and/or the desire for fame and honor. As the Quran tells us to say; Truly my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. (6:162)
The true reality is that egoism and a consciousness of others lurks behind many of the deeds we do. It is difficult to purge our deeds of all such impurities and it requires continual vigilance and alertness. We need to constantly test ourselves to see if our devotion is truly sincere. Ask yourself the following questions when you do a good deed or an act of devotion:
- Is the praise of people very important to you? The Holy Prophet (s) says; Certainly there is a reality of every truth and a servant cannot reach the reality of Ikhlas unless he does not like people to praise him for the actions he has done for the sake of God. [Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 72, p.304, hadith # 51]
- If people criticize you would you continue doing the good deed? In the Quran, when Allah describes the people whom He loves and who love Him, He says they are not afraid of the reproaches of those who find fault (5:54). Such is their determination that criticism of others does not disturb them.
- Are you satisfied with hoping that God is pleased with your deed, or do you expect something in return? The great scholar Shaykh al-Baha’i (ra) has narrated that the people who love Allah say that: “Ikhlas means keeping action free from other‑than‑God having a role in it and that the performer of an action should not desire any reward for it in the world and the Hereafter.
Strive to keep your devotion pure for God. It cleanses and beautifies the soul, making it worthy of the Light of God.
Aytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirazī (ed), Tafsīr Namūne, (al-islam.org)